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PACEID Loses Valued Partner as UNDP Uganda’s Elsie Attafuah Departs

It was an evening of mixed emotions as Ms. Elsie Attafuah, the Ugandan United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative, bid farewell to the country after her four and a half years’ tour of duty came to an end. In a heartfelt farewell dinner held at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel on Thursday evening, speakers celebrated her remarkable achievements and contributions towards the nation’s development agenda while at the same time expressed a genuine sense of sadness at her departure. 

Attafuah leaves Uganda to head the UNDP program in Nigeria, a country with the biggest economy in Africa.

Elsie Attafuah with UNDP Uganda Deputy Resident Rep Sheila Ngatia and Makerere University Vice-Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe

The Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID) team; Brenda K. Opus, Head of Markets, Allan Mugisha- Team Lead Infrastructure and Rowland Bon Nkahebwa- Communications attended the farewell dinner to honor Ms. Attafuah, following the end of her successful tenure. Recognizing her immense dedication and transformative impact, PACEID expresses gratitude for her service and commemorates her achievements.

Attafuah’s work aligned closely with PACEID’s objectives, as her initiatives within the UNDP focused on advancing sustainable development, poverty reduction, and promoting environmental responsibility. In August 2023, UNDP Uganda partnered with PACEID to launch an export preparedness training programme designed to help Ugandan exporters successfully penetrate the highly competitive US market considering it offers tremendous opportunities for businesses looking to expand their reach given their USD18trillion consumer expenditure.

The farewell dinner, attended by senior government officials, heads of different UN agencies in Uganda, prominent private sector players and prominent individuals, celebrated Attafuah’s accomplishments during her tenure as UNDP Uganda Country Representative.

UNDP Uganda Deputy Resident Representative Sheila Ngatia thanked guests for honouring Attafuah before waxing lyrical about her passion and deep affection for Uganda. “It’s hard to imagine it’s four and a half years since she assumed her role in Uganda. It’s a time of mixed feelings. She has often asked important questions and positively challenged us to be bold, visionary and seek to end poverty in Uganda and the continent. Attafuah is passionate and deeply affectionate about the Pearl of Africa. We would have wished her to stay longer but such is the nature of our work. I am proud that she heads to Nigeria, the country with Africa’s biggest economy where she will become Uganda’s tourism ambassador.”

Ugandan banker, economist and academician, Prof. Ezra Suruma delivered the keynote speech at the dinner starting by referring to Attafuah as ‘a distinguished daughter of Africa’. “Thank you for your commitment to improving the lives of the people of Uganda, especially the poor and underprivileged. Thank you for your efforts in skilling the youth and fostering the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Uganda. Please, rest assured that your efforts have not been in vain. We greatly value your selfless efforts to better Uganda and Africa. We are sorry that you must leave us. We wish you a prosperous career in Nigeria. Come back, Uganda will always be your home.”

At the farewell dinner, Attafuah extended her appreciation for the support and collaboration of PACEID and other partners during her time in Uganda. She highlighted the significant progress made in various sectors and reiterated the importance of sustained efforts in realizing Uganda’s economic potential.

“The spirit of partnership with Uganda will endure, I have full confidence in all partners to continue the work we have started. As I leave Uganda and all our development partners, let’s do development unusual with a fire in our belly. For a development agency like UNDP, it’s inevitable to take risks. Let us be bold and ambitious and do something different. I challenge all of us to do things differently.” Attafuah told guests.

She leaves having been honored to serve Uganda saying that it will aways be her home. “Uganda has everything it takes to prosper, and yet people are poor. Let’s disrupt this. We must have a fire in our belly, and that is what has kept UNDP, kept me going. I am deeply thankful to Uganda for the privilege of serving Uganda. My heart is here, Uganda is home.”

Attafuah paid tribute to the government of Uganda and President Yoweri Museveni and UNDP donors including USA, Germany Sweden, Japan, Switzerland, Norway, France, Belgium, India, China and Finland among many others.

“As my time comes to bid farewell to Uganda, I find myself celebrating now more than ever Uganda’s spaces, people, ability, renaissance and knowledge – what I term Uganda’s SPARK. In my last 4 years serving this country and her beautiful people, I continue to be enthralled by the people, landscapes, cultures, communities, women, men and young people who have inspired me since my arrival in 2019.” noted Attafuah whose successor will be coming in two weeks’ time.

World Health Organization Representative to Uganda Yonas Tegegn Woldermarian thanked Attafuah for challenging the UN system to deliver on their commitment to help Uganda achieve its development goals. “Attafuah is passionate and Africa requests passion from each of us. We have the duty to do our best for Africa. The Peal of Africa is not only at the center of Africa but at the center our commitment for partnership in Africa. You have shown how passion for development can make a difference.”

Elsie Attafuah with Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Norbert Mao

Justine Kasule Lumumba, Minister in charge of General Duties in the Office of the Office of the Prime Minister represented Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabajja who was the Chief Guest.

Minister of General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister Justine Kasule Lumumba represented Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabanjja

Lumumba expressed her heartfelt gratitude to Attafuah before reading out the PM’s speech to guests which recognized the latter’s commitment and love for Uganda.

Nobert Mao- Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Vincent Bagiire- Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Jan Sadek- Ambassador of the European Union to Uganda also gave brief but moving tributes to Attafuah and wished her the best in the next chapter of her career.

Jan Sadek- Ambassador of the European Union to Uganda

Other prominent guests at the event were; Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe- Vice Chancellor Makerere University, Uganda Airlines CEO Jennifer Bamuturaki, Amos Wekesa CEO Great Lakes Safaris and many others attended the farewell dinner.

During the event, UNDP Uganda and partners launched the UNDP Coffee Table Book celebrating 51 years accompanying Uganda’s development agenda.  

Elsie Attafuah’s departure leaves a lasting legacy, but also paves the way for new opportunities and partnerships as the organization moves forward.

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